The segment between Rs.10000 to Rs.15000 is one of the densest in the markets, with many manufacturers launching a lot of products in the price range as it is a sweet spot where you get great features without shelling out a lot of money.

When we last tested and reviewed smartphones under Rs.15,000, the Mi A1 emerged victorious simply because of the superb value package it provided, courtesy of the great build quality, long battery life, quality display, terrific cameras and the Android one program. But in just a few months we have a whole new set of smartphones competing with each other. 

To help you find the best phone for your buck, we have done a boatload of research, reading through multiple review websites and customer reviews. So sit back and read through all the work that we have done to help you find the best smartphone under 15000.

Best phone under 15000 (Best Performance and Battery)

Asus Zenfone Max Pro M2
Great performance

For a long time, the words budget and Xiaomi always went together like bread and butter but the Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 was amongst the first to rattle Xiaomi at its own game.

This time, Asus is back at it but with improved features and an even more powerful processor. Powering the Asus Zenfone Max Pro M2 is a Snapdragon 660 processor (compared to the S636 on the Redmi Note 6 Pro), a segment-first Gorilla Glass 6 display protection, glass-like back, improved cameras and a large 5000mAh in a body that's lighter than most other smartphones.

Unlike the previous versions, there's very little that compromises the experience on the Zenfone Max Pro M2 making it truly one of the best phone under 15000. 

Pros

  • Amazing battery life

  • Stock Android goodness with very little bloatware

  • Superb pricing

  • This time it looks good too!

  • Big improvements to the cameras

  • Segment-first Gorilla Glass 6 support

  • Extremely light for a 5000mAh battery phone

  • Supports Widevine L1 for HD streaming

  • Speaker gets pretty loud

  • Dedicated sd card slot

  • Dual-4G VoLTE

Cons

  • The notch needs some optimization

  • Fast charging would have sped up the charging time

  • Uses a slightly underclocked version of the Snapdragon 660

  • No stabilization for 4K videos

  • Doesn’t stabilize videos as good as the Note 6 Pro

What's it missing?

  • Wifi-ac

  • IR Blaster

  • USB-C

  • Quick Charging support

  • True waterproofing (No IP rating)

  • Useful Secondary camera (No optical zoom, wide angle)

  • Super slow motion video

  • Stereo speakers

  • Dedicated DAC

Where to buy it?

If you want (3GB ram/32GB internal storage) purchase it on  Flipkart

If you want (4GB ram/64GB internal storage) purchase it on  Flipkart

If you want (6GB ram/64GB internal storage) purchase it on  Flipkart

Best phone under 15000: (Best camera)

Xiaomi Redmi Note 6 Pro
Great design

While the Redmi Note 6 Pro doesn’t represent the same value it did with its predecessor, it does have on great thing under its belt- the cameras. That remains one of the most important reasons why people still pick that device.

Despite the processor remaining the same, there are some improvements too, like the taller notched display, blink-and-miss redesign of the rear, faster focusing on the cameras and Quick Charge 3.0 support.

Even though it’s no longer the king of the segment, as it's dethroned by the Asus, for people who love a great camera and are fans of MIUI, the Redmi Note 6 Pro is one of the best smartphone in India under 15000 as well as the best camera phone under 15000.

Pros

  • Superb screen with good brightness and contrast

  • Gorilla Glass protection

  • Great cameras with excellent video recording

  • Great battery life

  • Good speaker audio quality

  • Good build quality

  • Fast charging support

  • Phone cover is provided in the box

  • Bluetooth 5.0 and Dual-band wifi support

  • Has P2i splash-proofing

Cons

  • MIUI is not everyone's cup of tea

  • Derivative design is getting old

  • Should have had an upgraded processor

  • The dreaded notch makes its presence

  • Hybrid sim slot

  • Supports fast charging but fast charger not bundled in the kit

  • No HD video streaming in Amazon Prime and Netflix

What's it missing?
  • USB-C

  • True waterproofing (No IP rating)

  • Useful Secondary camera (No optical zoom, wide angle)

  • 4K Video recording

  • Super slow motion video

  • Front camera flash

  • Widevine L1

  • Dedicated MicroSD card slot

  • NFC

  • Stereo speakers

  • Dedicated DAC

Where to buy it?

If you want (4GB ram/64GB internal storage) purchase it on  Flipkart
If you want (6GB ram/64GB internal storage) purchase it on  Flipkart


This is a really long post! Use these links to jump around.


How we selected?

To find the best smartphone under 15000 we went over reviews from a lot of websites - from Gsmarena to Fonearena - to see if there was a consensus on which phone was the best. We then further verified this by reading through verified reviews on Amazon and Flipkart from people who actually have bought and used the product. Mainly, to make sure the big sites didn’t miss anything.

In total we have spent over 100 hours in the past year going through benchmarks, vetting recommendations, talking to experts and reading about the market trends and technologies from other reputed tech sites to truly help find the best smartphone for you.
 

Best phone under 15000 in detail

Superb built

Specifications

Design and Build: One of the prettiest smartphones in its class

While the Zenfone Max Pro M1 was often called an ugly duckling, the Zenfone Max Pro M2 has truly transformed into a gorgeous swan with its glass-like body and colours. This really was one of the reasons why people would have skipped the M1, the camera being the other.

Moving away from the thick bezels of the M1, the M2 brings forth the new generation of the notched display with minimal bezels and a tiny chin. The backside is where the real magic is with vertically stacked dual cameras which resemble the iPhone X and the shimmering back with the pattern really exuding quality. Do note, however, the back is made of acrylic and it's not glass even though it feels the same to the touch.

The tall screen makes it's easy to hold in the hand and is, in fact, very space efficient as you can have a 6.26-inch display in the frame of a 5.5-inch screen. The notch is much smaller than the Redmi Note 6 Pro which is a good sign, but it's a wee bit taller which does bring some inconsistencies in the UI while using it. 

Superb built

The new blue colour suits the phone really well, and it’s a great effort from Asus to hide the bulk of the 5000mAh battery that is inside the M2. Not just that, the phone is lighter than the competition too at just 175 grams. The Redmi Note 6 Pro with a much smaller 4000mAh battery weighs 182 grams, while the 5000mAh packing Moto One Power weighs 205 grams.

Other details include the rear-mounted fingerprint sensor and the cameras whose positions prevent accidental smudging. The dual camera unit along with the flash does protrude from the phone body, inviting scratches if you tend to place your phone on its back.

The bottom of the phone houses the 3.5 mm jack, the primary microphone, micro USB port, and the loudspeaker. The front of the phone accommodates the display, camera, sensors, and the earpiece. While the dual-sim+microSD tray slots into the side. 

Software: Stock Android, Bloatware-free experience

Since the last Zenfone, Asus has managed to tone down their software to near stock and it’s the same on the Zenfone Max Pro M2. Apart from useful apps like the calculator, audio recorder and camera app the only other installed apps are FB, Instagram and Messenger.

Some other features include a few gestures like double tap to wake the screen and the screen stay function that keeps the screen lit up if you are looking at it. One missing software feature is the lack of a notch hide option. Hopefully, it will come as an update later.

With the previous phones, Asus was reasonably good with updates, coming out with bug fixes and improvements regularly that not only added new camera-related features but also improved the fingerprint sensor over time. This time too Asus has promised camera improvements and new features for the camera with future updates. 

One disappointment is that the phone launched with Android Oreo, even when Android Pie is released. Thankfully, Asus will update it to Pie by Q1 of 2019 along with the Zenfone Max Pro M1 and Zenfone 5Z.

Hardware: Good display, great processor and decent audio

Packing a modern FHD+ 19:9 display, the Zenfone Pro M2 manages to even beat the best in its class. The display is truly amazing for the price point with great brightness, accurate colours and even Gorilla Glass 6 display protection.

Beebom loved the display, especially when compared to the Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1. But the trump card here is the Gorilla Glass 6 protection which is available at this price point for the first time. The second cheapest phone with GG6 is the OnePlus 6T priced at Rs.37,999. 

 So what's really special about Gorilla Glass 6 you ask? Well, GG6 is designed to take up to 15 drops from a height of 1 metre. This makes for a great addition to current smartphones as we all tend to inadvertently drop them sometimes. 

bench mark

Performance of the Asus Zenfone Max Pro M2 is the main differentiator in its segment. The Snapdragon 660 looks similar in CPU specifications to the Snapdragon 636 due to the same number of Kryo 260 cores. But the difference isn’t that much in the CPU with the 660 being slightly overclocked between 1.95Ghz to 2.2 GHz over the 636’s 1.8 GHz.

The main benefits, however, are the AI engine and the much more powerful Adreno 512 GPU.  The GPU particularly helps it with gaming in the present scenario of multiplayer games like PUBG and can be witnessed in the 3DMark benchmark where it beats the Kirin 710 as well as the Snapdragon 636.

Coming back to the CPU, the presence of four high-performance ARM Cortex A73 based cores and four power saving ARM Cortex A53 based cores together give you the perfect blend of raw performance and superb power saving.

Beebom found the phone defaulted to PUBG in medium settings and gave a stutter-free gaming experience. Turning the graphics to high did cause some stuttering, so for a great gaming experience its best to stick to medium settings. 

About the audio quality, Beebom found an instant improvement in quality over the previous generation of Zenfone Max Pro. The speaker according to them is much louder than before although not as good in quality as the Redmi Note 6 Pro.

Audio through the headphone jack to is improved with the sound now a lot clearer and louder than before. A Quad DAC would have further improved things and allowed for support for higher quality headphones and earphones as well.

There is a fingerprint sensor at the back which is decently fast to unlock along with the face unlock feature.

For connectivity, you get a Dual sim with Dual 4G VoLTE along with a dedicated microSD card, Wifi-N, Bluetooth 5.0 and GPS. The phone still misses out on the Dual band wifi ac along with USB Type C.

Camera: Massive improvements over its predecessor

Despite being a great value-for-money offering the Max Pro M1’s weakest link was its camera. Asus did improve it with software updates but even that wasn’t enough to beat the Note 5 Pro. So Asus came up the 6GB RAM variant which offered improved 16MPx sensors which definitely improved quality but it still couldn't keep up with the Redmi.

This time around Asus is not taking things lightly, the M2 comes with a 12MPx f/1.8 sensor backed by a 5MPx depth sensor which helps you take some amazing pictures (Spoiler alert: it's as good as the Redmi Note 6 Pro if not better).

According to Beebom, the rear cameras take pictures with great details and very rarely get the saturation or colour off. The same is carried over when capturing portraits shots as well which exhibit good details and have the edges of the subjects detected properly. In fact, they even felt that the Asus captures better details than the Redmi Note 6 Pro, although the Redmi has slightly better colours.

Switching to low light does reduce the quality but they are still decent enough, just not as sharp as those taken in good light. Beebom felt the Redmi Note 6 Pro performs a little better here with sharper, less noisy pictures than the Asus.

Coming to selfies, the M2 works well in good lighting conditions but capturers much softer images in poor light. Also, the front portrait mode is currently not available and will be released by the end of this December.

On paper the Asus Zenfone offers the best video recording capabilities, it has 4K support and 1080p with EIS support as well for better stability. In the real world, the 4K capture offers great details and colours but it's not really stable. While 1080p offers better stability its just not as good as the videos captured by the Redmi Note 6 Pro.

Battery: Stellar battery life, not so fast charging

With a humongous 5000mAh battery, there is no doubt the Asus Zenfone Max Pro M2 posts great battery numbers with Beebom reporting two days of battery life with medium usage. NDTV Gadgets HD loop test lasted for nearly 18 hours which is 3 hours more than the Redmi Note 6 Pro. These are impressive figures and battery life is one thing that you must not be concerned about on the Max Pro M2.

Given the superb pricing, the charging is what takes the hit due to a lack of Quick Charging. Using the onboard 10W charger requires a charge time of around 3 hours which isn’t very fast. But given the great battery life, you can charge it overnight.

 

Best phone under 15000 in detail (Best camera)

Attractive design

Specifications

The Redmi Note 5 Pro was undoubtedly the best smartphone in the Rs.15,000 segment, but with the competition getting more and more aggressive with the likes of Realme, Asus, Honor, Motorola and Nokia sparing no expense to bring their best to compete with it, the Note 5 Pro desperately needed an upgrade.

So Xiaomi gave it one, and it's not immediately obvious what the upgrades are, but what they are, are little sprinkles meant to improve the overall experience without a major bump in price or specifications. 

Attractive colours

Take the design, for example, there are minor changes to the curvature of the rear to make it easier to hold, the antenna lines are rounded at the ends to make it look more pleasing, then there are the new blue and red colours which really add to the whole design. Xiaomi’s even thrown in P2i splash-proofing to protect the phone against light splashes of water.

Moving up front, the thick bezels around the screen have made way for a more modern 19:9 display. This makes the bezels on the side much narrower, there is also a chin but its leaner than before. On the top, you have a notch which houses the dual cameras, ambient/ proximity sensors and the Led light. This time around Xiaomi has ditched the front-facing flash but thankfully kept the Led light.

The Redmi Note 6 Pro still houses the IR blaster at the top and even keeps the headphone jack. Sadly, there is no Quad DAC like the one found on the Mi A1. The sim slot is still of the hybrid kind and is housed on the side.

Gsmarena liked the display on the Note 6 Pro as it exhibited accurate colours, good brightness, great contrast and was pretty usable outdoors as well. The display brightness goes up to 480 nits which is an improvement over the 450 nits average of last years mid-range smartphones.

Performance doesn’t change much due to the same processor as the previous Note 5 Pro. But, according to the company, using a slightly older chipset helps them better optimize it in order to reap benefits when it comes to battery and thermal performance. That being said when it comes to gaming the Note 6 Pro lags behind the Asus Zenfone Max Pro M2 and its Snapdragon 660 behemoth.

The software is still the MIUI one found on most Xiaomi phones, but this time it's in it MIUI 10 flavour which brings a fresh lick of paint to the table and improves certain features. However, Xiaomi has baked in a little too many ads into the UI which can get annoying, thankfully they are already working on a fix for this.

For a phone launched just a few weeks ago having the Android Pie update with MIUI would have been better, but Xiaomi is working on the same and we should receive it in the coming time.

While the Note 5 Pro was the undisputed king of photography, the Note 6 Pro has some tough competition from all quarters, especially the Asus Zenfone Max Pro M2. That's exactly why the Note 6 Pro sees some minor, but important upgrades.

Firstly the main rear sensor is bigger in size which boosts the pixel size to 1.4µm from 1.25µm. Next, the aperture is much wider at f/1.9 over the f/2.2 of the previous one. These two upgrades are enough to give it a significant boost in low light photography.

But that's no all the upgrades, there's more. The autofocusing is improved too with Dual Pixel PDAF that's much more accurate and a shade faster as well. The front camera too sees an improvement with an additional depth sensor.

The selfie sensor too is different despite the megapixel count remaining the same at 20MPx. The pixel size has gone down to 0.9µm but the aperture is much wider at f/2.0 allowing in more light.

Gsmarena found the cameras of the Redmi Note 6 Pro to be very good displaying great colours, good contrast and very little noise. HDR mode too is balanced according to them without it going overboard.

Low-light performance too is good for its price, with the phone managing to capture sufficient details. Beebom found the Redmi Note 6 Pro to perform much better than the Asus in low-light.

Portrait mode too sees an improvement with edge detection over the Note 5 Pro, but Gsmarena was not a fan of the over aggressive blurring. But this over aggressive blurring is seen on most dual cameras smartphones today.

Selfies although great do not capture as many details as expected from the sensor. But the colours and contrast were actually great and you get good depth effects as well, just not as good as the rear camera.

Video recording on the Redmi Note 6 Pro is limited to 1080p at 30fps and even though that's nothing great as the Zenfone Max M2 can do 4K at 30fps and the Honor 8X manages 1080p at 60fps the quality of video on the Redmi is great according to Gsmarena. In fact, they said it’s much better than a few flagships smartphones out there.

Another reason for picking up a Redmi Note series has always been the great battery life and the Note 6 Pro is no different. Despite not having the largest battery in its class you easily get over a days uses as reported by NDTV Gadgets. They used their video loop test and found it to last over 15 hours on the Redmi Note 6 Pro.

To charge the massive 4000mAh battery you get the 10W charger in the box which takes a little more than two hours. But the phone does support Quick Charge 3.0 and takes under two hours when charged with a compatible charger.

Links to buy the QC 3.0 Charger

Who are our best picks for?

The Asus Zenfone Max Pro M2 is a device, that this time doesn’t fit a particular audience and is rather designed for everyone - gamers, photographers, businessmen, movie lovers, stock Android fans, regular users it fits them all.  The large display, ample RAM, class-leading performance, great cameras, stylish design and long battery life make it quite possibly the best smartphone in its class.

The Redmi Note 6 Pro is more for lovers of photography and fans of MIUI and its vast feature set. Despite the Asus improving by leaps and bounds, the Redmi Note 6 Pro still is a camera powerhouse, especially in low-light and videos.

Despite the less powerful processor, the Note 6 Pro is not a slouch in comparison and boasts of some features like Dual-band wifi, splash-proofing and Quick Charge 3.0 support that even the Asus doesn’t provide while still maintaining peppy everyday performance.   

Who is the competition?

The Rs.10-15,000 segment is certainly one of the most lucrative ones and that's why you can see a ton of smartphones competing with each other in this segment.  So listed here are the various smartphones from different manufacturers that compete against the Asus Zenfone Max Pro M2 and the Xiaomi Redmi Note 6 Pro.

Motorola

The Moto One Power offers the most value for money (in the Moto lineup) with its S636 processor, 5000mAh battery, Android One program and TurboPower charging. However, the cameras on the One Power are pretty bad and that is a major reason for not picking that phone especially when the Redmi and Asus offer so much better camera performance while offering better design as well. 

The Moto G6 and E5 Plus offer pretty poor entry-level processors for the price and even the stock software isn't enough to really justify their high price tags. 

Honor

good battery

The Honor 8x is the best in Honor’s Rs.15,000 lineup as it gets a huge display, powerful processor and a large 3750mAh battery. But the heavy skin, average cameras and lack of fast charging and USB-C port make it less worthy than the Asus Zenfone Max Pro M2. In fact, Honor makes another great smartphone, the Honor Play which is currently retailing for Rs.15,999 and offers impressive improvements over the Honor 8X like a better processor, fast charging, USB-C, metal build and more.

Between the Honor 9N and Honor 7C, it's the 9N that offers better design, camera and processor. However, their performance is below the average when compared to the competition. Take our advice and skip these two.

The Honor 8C is a new offering in the sub-15000 segment and it matches the Asus Zenfone Max M2 closely as they share the same processor, cameras, battery, display, storage and RAM with the only differences being the price, design and software  based on the reviews people were not that big of a fan of the display and camera and for the price your better off with the Asus Zenfone Max Pro M2 (the pricier and more powerful version of the Zenfone Max M2). 

Xiaomi

The previous generation Redmi Note 5 Pro does still retail in the market with a price cut and given that it was our best pick, you can still buy it. However, the Redmi Note 6 Pro does brings some improvements that make it a better purchase over the Note 5 Pro. 

Similarly the Redmi 6 Pro is a good buy under the Rs.10,000 budget, but for Rs.13,000 the 4GB version is simply priced too close to our best picks which offer a much better experience over the Redmi 6 Pro.

Nokia

The Nokia 6.1 Plus is one of the best offerings in Nokia’s armour, you get an S636 processor, Android one program, glass back and a modern display. Where it goes wrong is the average battery (3060mAh) and the average cameras. If you do need stock Android but with all the bells and whistles look towards the Asus. 

Nokia 5.1 and Nokia 3.1 Plus meanwhile offer tiny 3000mAh batteries, average processors with only the Android One software being the USP. Frankly, for the price, they command both our best picks make more sense. 

Realme

After the Realme 1 success Realme came with three new smartphones and have recently added another one to the mix. The Realme 2 Pro is the best of the lot with a great processor, superb display and decent cameras but the battery life isn’t as good as is the software. Pick the Realme 2 Pro only if you are an existing Oppo user and are used to their software. 

The same is true for the Realme U1 which boasts of an amazing selfie camera, good display and design and will suit people who like taking selfies and don’t mind the heavy skin. 

The Realme 2, however, is the weakest of the lot with an HD+ display and an entry-level Snapdragon 450 processor which for the price is pretty bad. 

Samsung

Samsung’s mid-range offerings have been a little off lately due to their high price- but low specs. The Samsung Galaxy On8, Samsung Galaxy J8 and Samsung Galaxy J6 are no different with low-resolution displays, entry-level processors, average cameras and small batteries. That's pretty bad as Samsung does make some truly amazing smartphones like the Note 9 and S9+.

Infinix

Great software

While the Infinix Note 5 was our best pick under Rs.10,000, the same can’t be said about the Infinix Note 5 Stylus priced at Rs.16,000. That being said if you are someone who wants the stylus capability of the Note 9 with the same technology and pressure points the Note 5 Stylus is what you must pick. The software too is Android One, you get a good battery and fast charging as well. What lets the phone down though is the single sensor camera and the Mediatek P23 processor.

Asus

The Asus Zenfone Max M2 has a 4GB variant that's priced around Rs.11,999, but we wouldn't recommend it as it is too close to the Redmi note 6 Pro and the Asus Zenofne Max Pro M2, b9oth of which offer a much better display, more powerful processor and far superior cameras over the Max M2.

Gionee

The S11 Lite is a newly introduced smartphone from Gionee and frankly its a collection of some rather underwhelming specifications like a Snapdragon 430 processor, HD+ display, Android 7.1 Nougat and a 3030mAh battery. For the price of Rs.10,999 it's far to close to our best picks which are miles ahead of it across the board.


Final Thoughts

With every manufacturer claiming to give you the best selfie experience, amazing gaming performance, best software and excellent battery life? It is simply too confusing to pick the best phone. With our research, we have managed to find two of the best smartphones in the Rs.15000 price category.

The Asus Zenfone Max Pro M2 impresses in almost all the category boasting of a quality display, superb gaming performance, great battery life and best of all a great pair of cameras. It truly has improved over its previous version and is truly deserving of the best smartphone in India under 15000 tag. 

The Redmi Note 6 Pro may not be the king of the market anymore, but it is still quite capable especially in the camera department. Add to that the new display, new software and improvements to the camera and the Note 6 Pro is still amongst the best value smartphones out there.

 

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